Caitlyn Jenner’s ESPY Speech Was Terrific

by Leslie on July 16, 2015

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a link. Go ahead and watch it. I’ll wait.

Simple, elegant, and eloquent. People are different. To hate and condemn merely for being different is wrong. And yet, the haters still hate. I posted this graphic on my Facebook page last night and got some snide replies.

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How easy is it to throw shade online? How easy is it to dismiss what we don’t like or understand with a casually hateful or even bitingly witty remark? I’ll tell you how easy. It’s really, really easy. I know this because I’ve done it plenty of times. I thought I was being clever. What I was being was lazy.

When we toss off a flip comment about something serious, we’re avoiding having to do the hard work of thinking and feeling and questioning. Of course, Facebook is made for this sort of behavior. (Yes, this is both another Caitlyn Jenner post and another post about my conflicted relationship with Facebook. Deal with it.) So, people who condemn this woman, I have the following question: Are you condemning her because she makes you uncomfortable? I get it. Honestly, I do. I think Caitlyn Jenner is a beautiful woman, and when she comes out looking like a million bucks in that Atelier Versace dress, and then opens her mouth and sounds very much like a man my little reptilian brain goes That’s weird. I don’t like that. It wants the beautiful woman I see on TV to have a beautiful womanly voice. But my little reptilian brain also tells me that:

  • every odd noise I hear at night is a serial killer coming to get me
  • every stray image fluttering in my peripheral vision is something I must fight or flee
  • I should eat all the ice cream because I might never see it again

In short, my little reptilian brain is an asshole and I don’t always have to agree with it. Maybe you shouldn’t always agree with yours, either. It means well. It’s trying to protect you. But it’s often just wrong. Maybe a beautiful woman with a man’s voice isn’t really a threat and maybe after you see it enough you’ll realize that and your little reptilian brain can go back to more mundane things like making you jump every time you see the knot in your wood floor that still isn’t a spider.

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I’ve also seen many people claiming they don’t have a problem with Caitlyn’s being transgender, but they don’t think she should have been given the ESPY Arthur Ashe Courage award when “there are so many others who have done more courageous things.” *  In my understanding getting an award doesn’t necessarily mean you were chosen as tops among all other world contenders. It means that the award givers wish to acknowledge your particular contribution. And as far as courage, I think Caitlyn Jenner definitely shows it. Just look at the unpleasant messages being hurled her way on my tiny little Facebook page. She is doing exactly what she says in her speech, she’s going out there and taking the flak so that others won’t have to.

We’re living in historic times, as far as GLGBTQ issues and rights go. It thrills me to see the arc of the moral universe bending toward justice. Slowly, but surely, I think we’re getting to a world that is more loving and accepting of the widely and wildly diverse examples of the human experience. And I think brave people like Caitlyn Jenner are helping us get there.

This, to be honest, makes me raise an eyebrow, because I have a strong feeling that it’s just people attempting to hide their transphobia under a convenient excuse. But I acknowledge that that’s not necessarily fair.

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Outta My Mind on a Monday Moanin’*

by Leslie on June 29, 2015

* My little tribute to the late, great, Bob Talbert.

Normally, I don’t have a problem with Mondays. In fact, I usually like Mondays. For some reason, they’re usually my most productive day of the week. And I really like being productive.

But this one’s gotten off to a bit of a bumpy start. Here’s what I posted on Facebook:

Hello Monday

For what it’s worth, it’s 7:15am and the stupid dog has been blissfully asleep in my bed for the last hour and a half.

     WILSON’S “TO-DO” LIST

  • Barf loudly on bedroom floor.
  • Wait for Food Lady to leap out of bed.
    • BONUS POINTS if she steps in the barf.
  • After she leaps out of bed and cleans the barf, try to kiss her.
  • After she shuns your kisses:
    • Leap into her warm spot in the bed.
    • (Ignore screams from kitchen. She’s not calling you to breakfast, she’s realizing she left her oatmeal on the stove overnight and now has an expensive pan full of brown, toasted concrete.)
    • Fall fast asleep until further notice.

Could be worse. Gotta laugh it off. At least I got to sleep until 5:45. My husband was awakened by a clap of thunder just before 4:30. Then he caught an early ferry and stopped to get coffee. Here’s how he explained it to me:

Chris' emoji morning

 

How are Mondays, generally speaking, for you? Tell me why you don’t (or do) like Mondays in the comments section below:

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Here’s the Thing About Caitlyn Jenner:

by Leslie on June 3, 2015

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It’s ok to say her story makes you uncomfortable.

As a fellow human being and the aspiring Boss of the World, I hereby give you permission to admit that. Why? Because transgenderism used to make me uncomfortable. And then I got over it.

My friend Michael came out as transgender to his greater community of friends in September of 2007. He was open and matter-of-fact about it (at least, on the outside) I didn’t ask too many questions, but I was there during his transition into becoming Megan.

It fascinated me, but it also made me uncomfortable. I didn’t understand it.

Gay? Gay I could get. I have a gay daughter. But feeling like you’re the other gender? I didn’t understand how that worked. I couldn’t find a way for it to click into my brain. It was like Michael was handing me a puzzle piece and I couldn’t figure out where to put it.

But then here’s what happened: Michael became Megan. He went away for surgery and came back and asked to be addressed as Megan. Megan had softer features and a softer voice. Megan was more emotionally engaged and engaging. But otherwise?

Pretty much the same person.

I say this not to diminish Michael/Megan’s journey or transformation. I know it was a huge thing and a very big deal. I say this to assure all the rest of you that the world didn’t explode because this person identified as a different gender than what we all assumed. Megan still went to work at the same job. Megan was still married to the same wonderful wife. Megan still had the same beautiful kids. All that really changed on my end was that Megan seemed more comfortable in her skin than Michael did.

But, yeah, I felt awkward for a while. Because I had been thoroughly steeped throughout my life in gender being a binary. You’re either a boy or a girl. Boys do boy things and girls do girl things. If someone broke that code, it made me uncomfortable, as if suddenly trees grew upside down or dogs could talk. That just wasn’t the way I though things worked, and it confused me. I kept trying to understand it.

And then, I gave up. I came to the huge realization that I didn’t have to understand it. It wasn’t my job to understand it. It was my job to be a loving and supportive friend. Period. So that’s what I did. And, paradoxically, that’s when I began to feel as though I understood it: This person is a human being, just like all the rest of us, who’s trying to find their way through this crazy life. And just like eye color or handedness or height, people are born the way they’re born.

I heard a great quote today from a transgender person: “I’m not trapped in another person’s body. I’m trapped in other people’s ideas about how my body should be.”

I feel like I’m not doing a good job of expressing why this story about Caitlyn Jenner is important to me. I’ve been posting about it a lot on my personal Facebook page, and there’ve been some interesting reactions. Most of them have been supportive, and we’ve joked together about how pretty she is, but there’ve been a few that have been less so. Someone suggested that I stop helping to keep this story alive, and said that unless you were in Caitlyn’s immediate family, it has no impact on your life. Here was my response:

 I have seen a person whom I have admired since I was a child, who was the epitome of athleticism and a role model to thousands, if not millions of people, finally find the courage to be public about their true nature after decades of being afraid to do so. To finally decide that the slings and arrows of people who treat it as shameful and think they should hide it were not as painful as living a lie.

If you were this way, wouldn’t you be confused and terrified? I would. How much courage would it take for YOU to stand up in front of the entire world and share your flaws, fears, and true heart? I know I don’t have the guts. Caitlyn Jenner does. Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner has inspired me again.

 

A few other comments were along the line of “Why is this news?” or “Who gives a shit?” The “Who gives a shit?” one was particularly interesting to me because, clearly, this person gave a shit. Not necessarily in support of Caitlyn Jenner, but something about the story was poking him. I can’t say for sure what it was, but if I had to hazard a guess I’d say it was something along the lines of “This makes me uncomfortable.”

Which, I repeat, is fine.

But, for God’s sake, people, let’s just be honest here. Could we be honest? Can we just be like Caitlyn Jenner and say “I’m sick of the lying and bullshit. Here’s the deal”?

 There are transgender people in the world. They exist. They’re not doing this to get attention and they’re not doing this to annoy you. It’s a real thing and they were born that way and you don’t have to like it or understand it but please stop throwing stones and making mean jokes and saying it’s not important. To the people who are transgender or love someone who is, it is very important. So admit you’re uncomfortable, and then realize you’ll get over it.

I did.

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Peter Coyote on Robin Williams’ Suicide

by Leslie on January 16, 2015

Yes, this is old. But I just learned of it today. I wasn’t aware that Peter Coyote, who I know as an actor and a narrator, was also a Zen Buddhist priest. Here are his wise words:

Robin and I were friends. Not intimate, because he was very shy when he was not performing. Still, I spent many birthdays and holidays at his home with Marsha and the children, and he showed up at my 70th birthday to say “Hello” and wound up mesmerizing my relatives with a fifteen-minute set that pulverized the audience.

When I heard that he had died, I put my own sorrow aside for a later time. I’m a Zen Buddhist priest and my vows instruct me to try to help others. So this little letter is meant in that spirit.

Normally when you are gifted with a huge talent of some kind, it’s like having a magnificent bicep. People will say, “Wow, that’s fantastic” and they tell you, truthfully, that it can change your life, take you to unimaginable realms. It can and often does. The Zen perspective is a little different. We might say, “Well, that’s a great bicep, you don’t have to do anything to it. Let’s work at bringing the rest of your body up to that level.”

Robin’s gift could be likened to fastest thoroughbred race-horse on earth. It had unbeatable endurance, nimbleness, and a huge heart. However, it had never been fully trained. Sometimes Robin would ride it like a kayaker tearing down white-water, skimming on the edge of control. We would marvel at his courage, his daring, and his brilliance. But at other times, the horse went where he wanted, and Robin could only hang on for dear life.

In the final analysis, what failed Robin was his greatest gift—his imagination. Clutching the horse he could no longer think of a single thing to do to change his life or make himself feel better, and he stepped off the edge of the saddle. Had the horse been trained, it might have reminded him that there is always something we can do. We can take a walk until the feeling passes. We can find someone else suffering and help them, taking the attention off our own. Or, finally, we can learn to muster our courage and simply sit still with what we are thinking are insoluble problems, becoming as intimate with them as we can, facing them until we get over our fear. They may even be insoluble, but that does not mean that there is nothing we can do.

Our great-hearted friend will be back as the rain, as the cry of a Raven as the wind. He, you, and I have never for one moment not been a part of all it. But we would be doing his life and memory a dis-service if we did not extract some wisdom from his choice, which, if we ponder deeply enough, will turn out to be his last gift. He would beg us to pay attention if he could.

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I Need a Numi

by Leslie on September 3, 2014

Hey, Baby, you come here often?

I’m tired of going into dirty, damp, smelly bathrooms to do my business. Clearly I’ve been going about this all wrong. This couple seems to have figured it out. They have a Numi toilet. It has a built in bidet, air dryer, seat warmer, foot warmer, light show and music. It’s so magical and lovely they seem to have put it in their living room. Which, of course, is entirely glass-walled. These people don’t throw stones. They know what’s up. I would probably put my $5,000 toilet in the living room, too.

I need a Numi.

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